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New Priorities Will Drive Change For IT Departments

In becoming champions of efficiency and deep integration, IT departments can set the tone and drive innovation outward, to every other team within their organization.

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IT departments battle with two persistent challenges: improving customer experience and value, and driving internal innovation and productivity. Moving forward, IT needs to stop behaving like a support function, and instead should weave itself across all the business touch points within an organization. Specifically, IT should implement integrated application suites that can bring together all customer information from multiple business areas into one place. 

A platform that integrates key data from marketing, sales, services, and payments would allow customer-facing teams to gain a complete perspective of the customer, uncover and eliminate bottlenecks, and improve the overall customer experience. A holistic approach liberates information from compartmentalized organizational silos and unlocks its true value of driving innovation and better decision-making. 

Historically, IT departments are strapped for resources, chiefly in human capital. With fewer hands available and more work coming in from all sides, IT should prioritize and stop wasting time on custom projects. There are now a variety of integrated suites, highly configurable business applications, and no-code/low-code environments. Each one of these advancements allows for customization to meet the needs of specific businesses, so one size does NOT have to fit all. This offers massive leverage to skilled IT staff to take on transformational projects—like a customer self-service portal offered in multiple languages by using extensible platforms that don't require writing new code.

Today, IT departments focus on driving their operations in the cloud, and much of their decision-making is led by considerations of economics and the infrastructure layers (deployment, security, scaling, etc.). They should start focusing on the application layer to find new ways to use cloud apps to drive improvements to their business models. Here are some examples: new customer services that can now be efficiently delivered under a subscription model; rapid updates of customer products and services; new ways to engage with customers at any stage in the customer life cycle—from multi-channel marketing and outreach programmes to new prospects to self-service portals for customer services and product fulfilment.

By adopting a heavily integrated approach to cloud software applications, businesses will enable analytics to uncover deep customer information across all products. Automation and assistance tools help in problem-assessment and business-prediction, moving any company towards the next phase of growth. With the right management push, cloud makes businesses powerful and nimble at the same time.

The next step is to measure the effect of these efforts on the productivity of the company. Afterall, increasing productivity is the goal of all automation, and the reason for the existence of the IT department. This varies from industry to industry. In knowledge industries like software, a good metric to measure productivity would be revenue per employee.

That being said, when it comes to measuring the success of an IT department, the best metric is its size relative to the size of the organization. It may sound flippant, but these days, the responsibility of the IT department has expanded to include new areas like security and intrusion detection. At the same time, advances in technology have massively improved the efficiency of IT departments, which will be reflected in the reduction of team sizes. In becoming champions of efficiency and deep integration, IT departments can set the tone and drive innovation outward, to every other team within their organization.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Raju Vegesna

The author is Chief Evangelist, ZOHO

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